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Earth has a second small moon – at least for the next 300 years

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Earth has a second moon – at least for the next 300 years


The Moon As We Know It – So Far Alone

© Jeff Swain/Picture Alliance

Until now, we thought only one moon orbited our planet. But he did get company – if only for a limited time.

If you look at the sky at night, you will see the moon when the sky is clear. And maybe some stars. The moon, not the moon. After all, we only have one. or? This is not entirely true, because researchers have been observing another object near the Earth for several years: they called it Kamo’oalewa, a Hawaiian term referring to a celestial body.

However, Kamo’oalewa is too small for a true moon – only about 50 meters in diameter. In addition, it does not orbit the Earth directly, but travels in a switch-like orbit between the Earth and the Sun, being practically dragged back and forth between the forces of attraction. Scientists have long wondered what this thing could be. In fact, it is not like an asteroid, since it often occurs near the Earth.

What is the small moon made of?

Asteroids usually glow brightly when exposed to infrared light. But Kamaloa remained in the dark. This made it more difficult for researchers to learn more about its composition: it shines.”The team, led by scientist Benjamin Sharkey of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, reported that it was “extremely weak” and thus “difficult to observe.” But in the end, they had an idea.

The team compared the physical composition of the mysterious young moon to that of the real moon. And lo and behold: the mystery has been solved. Apparently it is Kamo’oalewa is about a portion of the Moon, which may have been launched in an asteroid collision and has since been tracing its orbits on its own. Researchers estimate that it will keep our moon company for about 300 years. However, the Earth’s gravity and the Sun will not be able to hold it, as a result of which it will shoot out of its orbit and fly away into space on isolated paths.

those: “time”

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